The documentary ‘Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine’ launches the first-ever Gay Night at IDFA in Amsterdam with six screenings from November 21 – December 1 2013
The film – takes an intimate look into the life of 21-year-old American student Matt Shepard who was tragically murdered in 1998 because he was gay.
Framed through a personal lens by first-time director, Michele Josue, a close school friend of Matt’s, the film is a story of loss, love and courage in the face of tragedy. Michele travels to pivotal locations in Shepard’s life, interviewing friends and family, intercut with home video footage.
After years of tireless campaigning by his parents Judy and Dennis Shepard, Matthew’s brutal murder changed hate crime legislation in the US forever and was signed into law by President Obama in 2009.
The film will launch IDFA’s first-ever Gay Night (November 27) alongside Facing Fear a short film by US director Jason Cohen. Despite considerable achievements in the last fifteen years, LGBT inequality and hate crimes are still very real today. Though a deeply personal film, Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine tells a universal story. The film is particularly topical with the recent anti-gay marriage protests in France. In the Netherlands, the Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans, has announced that Russians discriminated against under a law banning gay “propaganda” may provide grounds for asylum in Holland.
“Fifteen years ago in October 1998, two men lured Matthew Shepard, a gay freshman at the University of Wyoming, from a bar in Laramie, WY. He was kidnapped and driven to a field where he was tethered and tortured to a fence and left to die. Never regaining consciousness, Matthew succumbed to the severe injuries from the attack and died on October 12, 1998.
“The murder of Matthew Shepard was a devastating tragedy that made countless headlines around the world. As people denounced the hatred and senseless violence that caused his death, a much-needed dialogue about hate crimes and intolerance against the LGBT community began and continues to this day. His tragic story brought the reality of inequality and vicious, irrational contempt into the public consciousness and set the stage for the landmark Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009. This was driven through by Matthew’s parents Judy and Dennis Shepard, who also founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which promotes tolerance, in his name.
The screenings are as follows:
Thursday November 21, 12:30 Tuschinski 4 International Premiere
Saturday November 23, 14:15 Brakke Grond Expozaal
Tuesday November 26, 11:15 Munt 12
Wednesday November 27, 19:30 Munt 11 Gay Night
Saturday November 30, 21:00 EYE Cinema 1 Judy and Dennis will attend
Sunday December 1, 14:15 Munt 10 Judy and Dennis will attend